5 months ago

Iran blames Israel for blasts, says punishment will be ‘regrettable, severe’

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi


IIE Digital Desk:Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on Wednesday accused Israel of being behind the twin explosions during a memorial ceremony that killed more than 100 people in Iran.

Two rapid explosions near the burial site of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in Kerman resulted in the death of at least 103 people on Wednesday. The blast took place as Iran commemorated the anniversary of Soleimani's killing in a US drone strike in 2020.

The incident was labelled as a ‘terrorist attack’ by the state media and regional authorities. The unclaimed attack came amid high Middle East tensions over the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza and the killing of a Hamas senior leader in Lebanon on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, in a televised address, Raisi warned that Israel would “pay a high price”.

"I warn the Zionist regime: Do not doubt that you will pay a heavy price for this crime and the crimes you have committed," Raisi said, according to CNN.

The Iranian president also warned that Israel's punishment would be “regrettable and severe”.

Meanwhile, the Iranian president's political deputy, Mohammad Jamshidi also accused the United States, along with Israel, of being behind the blasts.

"Wshington says USA and Israel had no role in the terrorist attack in Kerman, Iran. Really? A fox smells its ownlair first," the Iranian president's political deputy, Mohammad Jamshidi wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

"Make no mistake. The responsibility for this crime lies with the US and Zionist regimes (Israel) and terrorism is just a tool," he added.

The United States rejected any suggestions that it or its ally Israel were involved in the attack.

"The United States was not involved in any way... We have no reason to believe that Israel was involved in this explosion," State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said, according to AFP.

Who was Qasem Soleimani?

Qasem Soleimani, a top Iranian general, helmed the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) from 1998 until his assassination by the U.S. in 2020.

He was the commander of the Quds Force, an IRGC division primarily tasked with extraterritorial and covert military operations. In his later years, some analysts considered him the right-hand man of Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and regarded him as the second-most powerful figure in Iran behind Khamenei.

The US had been actively pursuing him for many years, as his operations within Iraq since 2003 were disclosed by the US State Department to have resulted in the deaths of over 600 American personnel.

On being asked about the blasts, the Israeli military told CNN it had “no comment”.

Separately, Israeli army spokesman Daniel Hagari said: "We are focused on the combat with Hamas", according to AFP.

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